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Wake Hospice set to open new facility

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Mike Blanchard

Mike Blanchard

Todd Cohen

CARY, N.C. — The number of patients Hospice of Wake County has served this year has grown 21 percent from the nearly 2,200 patients it served in 2008.

And with its new 20-bed facility that will open Jan. 11 and be Wake’s first residential hospice facility, Wake Hospice expects to serve 600 more patients a year.

The new 19,000-square-foot William M. Dunlap Center for Caring, named for the founder of Wake Hospice, is part of The Hospice and Palliative Care Center, a new three-building complex Hospice has developed with funds from a capital campaign it launched in November 2005.

Chaired by Dr. Billy Dunlap, an oncologist who founded Wake Hospice, and by Smedes York, chairman of York Properties and a former Raleigh mayor, the campaign has raised $12.1 million and aims to raise another $2.4 million to meet its goal.

The goal, initially set at $8 million, has been increased several times to cover rising costs and expansion of plans for the complex, including the addition of six hospice beds Rex Hospital transferred to Wake Hospice for its new facility.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Hospice operates with a $14 million annual budget, 220 employees and over 400 volunteers.

The new complex, located on 8.7 acres in Cary donated by the state, also includes a two-story, 26,000-square-foot administrative and community service center named for Susan P. Rouse, a long-time volunteer and board member, and a spiritual sanctuary named for Dorothy Kerr, the widow of Kerr Drugs founder Banks Kerr.

Mike Blanchard, vice president of development at Wake Hospice, says the campaign, despite the recession, has fared well.

Since September 2008, when the U.S. economy began to collapse and, by coincidence, when Hospice was launching the public phase of its campaign, the effort has raised nearly $2 million.

Because capital campaigns typically secure larger gifts in their initial “quiet” phase, Blanchard says, the timing of the public phase was fortunate for the campaign because Hospice was getting ready to ask donors for much smaller gifts.

In the quiet phase, Hospice also had invited givers to make multi-year pledges, a strategy that Blanchard says has led some givers facing tough economic times to postpone pledges this year while promising to make them up in future years.

Hospice now is asking donors for gifts ranging from $150 to $500 to buy bricks at the new facility.

And in November, it distributed a mail appeal for its capital campaign.

Major support for the campaign includes a $1 million matching gift from the John William Pope Foundation; $500,000 from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation; $100,000 from the A.E. Finley Foundation; $2 million from Wake County and $450,000 from the City of Raleigh.

Blanchard says the opening of the new facility represents a great opportunity to show prospective donors what Hospice is all about.

“We’ve raised $12.1 million showing pictures and floor plans,” he says. “We expect gifts to go up because the facility speaks for itself.”

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